Monday, July 27, 2009
My Party, pt II
If we stipulate that, historically speaking, loyalties to political parties in America have largely been a matter of tribal allegiance (and I think we should), then what now? Certainly generations of votes from residents of Vermont and Illinois haven't stopped the current residents of those states from voting for the other team.
There's two explanations for this: the first is that party loyalties are still tribal, it's just that the members of the tribes are different. The other one is that whereas party loyalties have been tribal for most of America's history, they are ideological now. It may be some of both. This is an odd situation in American politics, but as Robinson points out that there is at least one clear antecedent for it: the founding era of the Republican party. Was the GOP the political expression of the abolition movement, or the successor the Whigs and Federalists in the North and Midwest? Well, both.
Ultimately the regional differences of that era weren't settled until the Civil War (and to some extent not even then). That might be a bad omen for us today. But you also could say that the unification of America into the truly United States was hard enough to come by, therefore not to be given up easily.